Trouble ahead

Another win for Obama, this time in Mississippi, but the real news is the increasing bitterness in the contest for the nomination. In a year when there is everything to play for, and a great deal to lose, the Democrats seem hell bent on tearing themselves apart. An excellent analysis of the current stae of play in, looking at why the scrap is getting uglier, and what the future may hold,

A campaign that degenerates into name-calling and mud-slinging will hurt Mr Obama more than it does Mrs Clinton. He has campaigned on messages of “change” and “hope” so he faces an unenviable choice in the long run-up to Pennsylvania. If he lets the Clinton team fling the brickbats without retaliation she may set the tone of the campaign. But respond in kind and his message of a new politics is tarnished. Even though he is behind there in the polls, Pennsylvania cannot come soon enough for Mr Obama.

For Clinton, what is at stake is no less than the redemption of Bill’s presidency, and her campaign is his by proxy. In part this is why Obama is so attractive, as he offers a real break from the tarnished past. All this however is mere gaming; the real battle will be with McCain.

Still all to play for

We are still waiting for the fat lady to sing. An excellent analysis in on the Texas and Ohio Primaries

What next? The nomination will go to the person who can amass 2,025 delegates. Before Tuesday Mr Obama led in the delegate count, but neither candidate would have been able to reach the magic number without superdelegates. That has not changed. So the campaigns now have to work out how to woo the superdelegates. Mrs Clinton can point to a victory in a state like Ohio and say that she can swing it to the Democratic column in November, but Mr Obama can point to his big success in Virginia and make a similar argument. Right now it seems that Mr Obama will be able to claim a lead in raw popular votes, but Mrs Clinton can point to her successes in primaries to Mr Obama’s successes in caucuses. The race between Mrs Clinton and Mr Obama will continue, and some Democrats will regret that. But Mrs Clinton has undoubtedly earned the right to be there.

It will be a long fight through the early summer, and the outcome is uncertain. Meanwhile John McCain has the Republican nomination, and George Bush’s endorsement (with the obligatory photo opportunity in the White House Rose Garden). McCain may need this to burnish his conservative credentials, but my bet is that that photo will appear in Democratic campaign ads in due course. Would you really want to be linked to the least successful US President in living memory (and that list includes both Nixon and Carter).

The politics of self-interest

It was inevitable that the decision to award the tanker contract to the EADS-Northrop Grumman consortium would cause outrage in the US: see the report in this morning’s FT, US outrage after EADS wins tanker contract. For a considered view (and in anticipation of the decision: the article appeared in the print edition at the end of January) the Economist’s This time it’s war cannot be bettered. What is just as interesting is how this will play out in the US presidential election. So far quiet, but not, I bet, for long (if only because it was a congressional investigation led by John McCain that stopped Boeing last time).